A Time to Speak and a Time to Be Silent

When should one speak out?

Take a minute before answering; this isn’t a black-and-white always-or-never answer. So many times this week, I’ve seen or read awful things that have incensed me. Weighing when to say something, and to whom I should speak has not been easy: when and how does speaking up actually help? So often, criminals and hateful people get away with their actions because good people are silent for good reasons:

~The privacy of victims must be  paramount (This has been a reason many feel the Duggar molestation case should be kept quiet.)

~Speaking out will only make the offender dig in and up their game. (This is often why bullies get away with verbal abuse.)

~No matter what one says, things won’t change. (This is why people simply give up or try to ignore hate groups like Westboro Baptist Church.)

But, good people, your reactions are just. as. powerful as the hate that grieves you, though not necessarily in the ways you wish:

When good people speak out against the rampant sexual abuse that occurs in many isolated cultish religious environs, that shines a light on a largely darkened evil that needs to be exposed. Though it likely won’t stop the abuse, it will cause some in that environment to think twice about the environment in which they have immersed themselves. In some cases, those thinking people will be young men and women who will grow up and reconsider continuing their adult life in the same environment.

When good people speak out against the bile that spills out all over their social media feeds, typically all that happens is a good old-fashioned interweb brawl with the bile-spewers, so silence is the best response. But, exposing that bile may make others think before they speak. Case in point: this sort of stuff does no one any good, and only makes the participants look bad:

“Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. ” -Matthew 12:34
“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7

Sometimes, though, we need to speak out against hate simply to make a point. Abused and maligned people need to know that someone is on their side and is willing to take evil on just so they know that they aren’t alone. Which is what J. K. Rowling did (admittedly in language that stoops to their level) when the Westboro Baptists were being themselves when they responded to Rowling’s awesome response to Ireland’s recent decision regarding gay marriage recently.

That'll preach.

That’ll preach.

People thought Rowling should ignore Westboro because responding to them only encourages them and gives them publicity they neither warrant or deserve. In one of the some most succinct and perfect writing she’s ever typed, Rowling explains why there are times good men must not be silent:

“You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death with the pain of it.” -J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

“You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death with the pain of it.” -J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Evil triumphs when good men to do nothing. For the victims of sexual abuse, for the victims of bullying, and for the victims of hate-speech, good men, find your soap box,  stand up on it, and speak.

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2 Responses to A Time to Speak and a Time to Be Silent

  1. Or find yourself complicit in the very acts you so privately abhor. Yes, there is a time to step up and say – “ye without sin” and “the line stops here.” Love, you, lady.” btw – I too agree that the victims of insular cultural abuse should be protected. But I’m absolutely sold on the idea of exposing self-righteous purveyors of the abuse of children. I’m not sure how to balance that, but a light should be shown – somehow.

    • rodalena says:

      Finding that balance is difficult. For me, the question is “What does the most good?”, and that’s not an easy question to answer.

You look like you want to say something. Go right ahead.